U.K.’s London Array Is The World’s Largest Offshore Wind Farm
(3BL Media/Justmeans) - News that Britain’s National Grid has made drastic plans for electricity rationing should come as no surprise. The State of the Nation 2003 report by the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) forecast ten years ago that homes could be plunged into darkness for prolonged periods by 2020 unless the government develops new ways of sourcing energy. It also stated that Britain will be completely reliant on fuel supplied via pipelines from politically unstable countries in West Africa, the Middle East and former Soviet republics. Sabotage, terrorist attack and mechanical failure of energy sources thousands of miles away would cause power cuts in the country within days. By then, the government could be forced to repeat the power cuts imposed during the coal crisis in 1974.
The ICE report did urge the government to develop a sustainable solution that incorporates renewable sources like wind and wave power, nuclear, “clean” coal, and gas-fired power stations. Under the National Grid’s proposals, a rise in household bills would be used to subsidise payments to commercial premises for turning off their power between 4pm and 8pm in winter – the period of peak electricity demand in the country.
So while we have the possibility of being plunged into darkness, the London Array wind power project in the U.K. was officially opened last month, becoming the world’s largest offshore wind farm. The fleet of 175 wind turbines stationed in the salty waters of the outer Thames estuary, where the river Thames empties into the North Sea, can boast of a capacity of 630 megawatts, which is enough to power nearly half a million homes.
The U.K. currently boasts more than 3.6 gigawatts of total offshore wind power capacity, which is forecast to more than quintuple in size by 2020. Although the London Array began operating in April, it was officially opened last month by the British Prime Minister David Cameron, who stated, “This is a great day for Britain and a big win for renewable energy. London Array shows you can build large-scale renewable energy projects right here in Britain. This is because when it comes to clean energy, the U.K. has one of the clearest investment climates globally.”
Renewable energy has been called impractical for its small scale and large expense compared to conventional power production methods. Yet now, new offshore wind facilities going online are equal in size to the largest gas-or-coal-fired power stations. The global market for offshore wind power is expected to grow 20 per cent a year for the next few years. The London Array, jointly owned by E-ON UK along with Dong Energy and Masdar, is a significant achievement in renewable energy. It seems that the government is taking on board the renewable energy mix that will be needed beyond 2020, if security of energy supply and meeting our environmental commitments are to be achieved.
Photo Credit: The London Array